Royal Canadian Navy to replace "seaman" rank title with gender-neutral term

by Bryan Brammer · Jul 17th, 2020 5:00 pm

Last Updated Jul 19th, 2020 at 11:01 pm

The Royal Canadian Navy has announced its decision to drop the term "seaman" in reference to junior sailors and replace the rank title with a designation that is more gender-neutral.

Commander Deborah-Lynn Gates, who is responsible for the navy's personnel policy, thinks replacing the term will allow the navy to become more diverse and inclusive.

"We appreciate tradition. And we're not downplaying tradition absolutely at all. But it's truly a matter for us to show that we are progressive and that we are listening and we are really, truly representative of Canadian society," Gates told The Canadian Press.

Gates also hopes removing the rank title will make current junior members and new recruits more comfortable.

"What this will do is ensure a safe environment so there is no double entendre," Gates added. "Definitely at the tactical level, we want to make sure our most junior members understand and feel safe when they are being called their rank, being called their name or being addressed."

Members of the Royal Navy, as well as the public, will be allowed to vote on two alternatives starting Friday. The poll will be posted online and run until the end of July.

One of the suggested terms simply replaces "seaman" with "sailor," while the other will remove adjectives such as "able" and "leading" in favor of "sailor first class" and "sailor second class."

There will also be a third option to suggest an alternative term.


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